An Interfaith Network of Helping

This story begins in the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting observed each year by Muslims, which ran last year from June 16 to July 17. Salma Jordan and some of her friends were looking for places where they could carry out their plan to perform 30 days of service as part of their observance of the holy month, during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from dusk to dawn. Someone mentioned Loaves and Fishes to her, she was in touch with Denize Stanton-Williams, the L&F program manager, and soon thereafter the group, accompanied by Esther Jordan, Salma’s mother, pitched in on the serving of a Sunday meal.

“We loved it and found a golden service opportunity for ’30 days of Service’ and for FEED (Food for Everybody Every Day),” Esther Jordan recalled. The elder Jordan is executive director of FEED, a project of the Association of Black Shia Youth of North America.

A one-time volunteer appearance swiftly turned into a continuing relationship in which another Jordan daughter, Kadijah Jordan, collects excess fresh produce from Big Valley, Mom’s, and Whole Foods markets, and once or twice a week delivers a selection to Loaves and Fishes and several other free meal and pantry programs in the Washington area. More recently, FEED has formed a relationship with the Capital Area Food Bank, opening the way to larger quantities of fresh food. “This is an amazing program,” Kadijah said of Loaves and Fishes as she was making a delivery on a recent Sunday. “And you people have been doing it for so long. We just knew from that first visit that we wanted to be part of it.”

Volunteers come to us. Most of the cooking, plating, and serving of the grand Loaves and Fishes Christmas dinner this past December was provided by members of Tifereth Israel Congregation, a synagogue on upper 16th Street in collaboration with other volunteers from the Washington, DC, Jewish Community Center. Larry Brizer of Tifereth Israel said this past Christmas was the tenth year the synagogue has sent volunteers to help with Christmas meals for the hungry around the metropolitan area. They helped at seven sites last Christmas including Loaves and Fishes, which was recommended to them by Catholic Charities, Brizer said. And with its contribution of $500, Tifereth Israel paid for most of the cost of that meal.

Loaves and Fishes is a ministry of St. Stephen and the Incarnation that offers a free hot lunch at noon every Saturday, Sunday, and federal holiday, 25,000 meals a year. Over its nearly 50 years of operation, Loaves and Fishes has grown into a program far larger than we at St. Stephen’s can handle alone. We have the continuing support of a number of churches, increasingly we have the support of people of other faiths or none, but we need your support also.

Please consider donating here, and come by any weekend to check us out, experience the program, and help serve a meal.

Posted in L&F News

George

These are the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas that I like to think of as the Thankful Days, a time in which we explore our gratitude for the gifts that life has given us, including the gift of life itself. Sure, many of us are caught up in the whirl or even the madness of Christmas shopping, party giving and going, and wondering where the year went. But in the midst of all that, I delight to find moments for quiet reflection, time to take stock, and opportunities to be moved by a continual upwelling of gratitude.

One way I return my thanks for this gratitude is through my support of the Loaves and Fishes program, which now stretches over many years. I write you to ask you to join me in that support. As you know, we serve a hot meal at noon every Saturday, Sunday and federal holiday free to anyone hungry who walks in the door. We expect that come New Year’s Day we’ll have served more than 25,000 meals over the course of the past 12 months.

George Drew, Loaves and Fishes guest


Those who come for the meals, our guests, are of all kinds. In this letter I’d like to introduce you to George Drew, one of our oldest guests. You might think of Drew, who’s in his early 80s, as the quiet man. Amid the lively chatter of the dining room, he rarely speaks to anyone except Denize Stanton-Williams, our program manager, and one of our volunteers who knows him and sees to it that he gets a second meal to take home for later. Drew agreed, though, to share a few words about his life for use in this appeal for your support Loaves and Fishes.

In a brief conversation with one of our volunteers, Drew recalled that one of the turning points in his life was when he was drafted and served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War in 1952 and 1953. The Korean winters were so cold, he said with the ghost of a twinkle in his eye, that when a man at the front stepped aside to relieve himself , the urine froze before it reached the ground. Following the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War, Drew was discharged from the Army and enlisted in the Air Force, where until his retirement from the military he was stationed mostly at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

George Drew is basically alone in the world. Aside from his daughter, whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years, he figures that all his family members are dead. He lives in a rooming house and has few possessions. But at Loaves and Fishes he finds a warm welcome. And the food, the food, he says, “It’s the best.”

Modest as his housing is, though, Drew does have a place to live. A survey we took of our guests in October show that 62 percent of those there that day slept either in a shelter or on the street. Our guests’ need for a place to go on weekends for a hot meal and a sense of welcome is urgent, especially in these frigid December days. Your support makes it possible.

Your donation has immediate and direct impact on feeding the hungry. For example:

  • $1,000 would cover a one month’s supply of chicken;
  • 1,500 will pay for one year of plates and utensils;$400 will pay for one year of napkins;
  • $250 will pay for three months of vegetables;
  • $50 will ensure that fifteen hungry people have a nutritious meal to eat this week­ end.

Do join me in sharing your gratitude in these Thankful Days by supporting Loaves and Fishes in our mission to serve the growing number of hungry and homeless among us. Please donate today.

Ed Grandi, Board Chair

Posted in L&F News

Advent: Thankful Days

201412Appeal1These days between Thanksgiving and Christmas coincide almost exactly with what Episcopalians and many other Christians call Advent. But I like to think of them as the Thankful Days, a bustling time of gratitude and hope. I am grateful for the support that continually flows in from so many of you. That support provided the thirty turkeys veteran Loaves and Fishes volunteer Ellen Baynard, assisted by students from Maret School, popped in our ovens the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Next day the bounty on our tables was plentiful. No guest departed hungry, no one was turned away. We were able to make all welcome.

201412Appeal2I am grateful for the Loaves and Fishes work of Susan Walker, one of our key welcomers. Susan is a volunteer deacon on St. Stephen’s clergy team. In a recent conversation with another L&F volunteer, Susan said that her ministry as a deacon has led her to reach out particularly to people who live on the margins of society. Most Sundays she passes out copies of the day’s Gospel reading in Spanish and in English to Loaves and Fishes guests. Then she and they talk together about the reading and what is going on in their lives. “I always walk away surprised and grateful,” Susan said. “Surprised for what I learned, for conversations that I didn’t know where they were going, but they gave me a sense of an individual that I wouldn’t otherwise meet.”

Susan is grateful for conversations and community she has experienced in the dining room at St. Stephens. “To follow Jesus you have to be close to the poor, in some form or another, and that’s a place where gratitude comes in,” she said. “When you get to know someone just for a few minutes, something breaks down. When you are sitting at the table, there is some sort an opening made, a new space, and I get a sense of that person’s humanity and struggles and maybe some of his story relates to my story in some way. Making those kinds of connections is vital for my life. I am grateful for that; I am receiving gifts from unlikely sources.”

2014Appeal3During the holiday season, it is especially important to help the less fortunate of our community. Your gift is so important because it will allow us to serve each and every person that walks into the dining room at St. Stephen’s for a warm, holiday meal and respite from the cold. Please donate today. And be grateful.

Ed Grandi
Chair, Loaves and Fishes Management Board

Posted in L&F News

Jeff

A searing summer is just beginning in Washington, and the air conditioned L&F dining room is not only a place for a meal. It’s a place to get out of the noonday sun.

A Loaves and Fishes Guest

Jeff is one of thousands of Loaves and Fishes guests who join us for a meal in a comfortable dining room, on days when there are few other options for midday meals.

Jeff is one of our guests these days at Loaves and Fishes, and he deeply values the opportunity we provide him and many others to come by for a hot meal and bit of relaxation in our dining room on weekends when so many of Washington’s free meal programs are closed.

Jeff, who’s 49, used to be a duo, moving about the city with his brother Michael, 40. But Michael, who like Jeff wrestled with alcohol addiction, took a turn for the worse in May, checked into Howard University Hospital, and died. Loaves and Fishes and Thrive DC, the agency with which L&F partners, helped arrange Mike’s funeral, and Jessica McLeod, Thrive’s director of social services, is now assisting Jeff to pick up the broken pieces of his life.

“I’ve been clean,” that is free of alcohol and other drugs, “for 24 days,” Jeff volunteered proudly on the recent day that he was interviewed by the Loaves and Fishes volunteer who prepared this letter.

As Jeff sees it, his life began to fall apart when his mother died in 2011. “I got to drinking pretty heavy after that,” he explained. He used to work as a courtesy clerk at Safeway, the rather grand title the grocery chain assigns to those who clean floors and carry out the trash. But he got in a fight in the street outside the store, and that job was lost.

It’s likely to take some time for Jeff to get his life together, but he has hope and he’s found helping hands. For the moment he sleeping in a dormitory provided by SOME (So Others Might Eat), another helping organization in Washington. He has a cell phone with 250 free minutes a month, provided by Access Wireless, which distributes phones to those who qualify twice a month at Loaves and Fishes. And when he’s hungry on weekends (who isn’t?), he knows there’s a meal waiting for him at Loaves and Fishes.

The reason that meal is there is because you and hundreds of people like you paid for it, came and cooked it, plated it, served it, and cleaned up afterwards. We are entirely reliant on your support. Please donate $1,000, $500, $90, $60, $30, or another amount to help us continue serving nutritious meals to our guests, and providing the hospitality, good fellowship and assurance of human worth that rises when people eat together. Any amount is appreciated. Your donation has immediate and direct impact on feeding the hungry.

Also, please save the October 31 (Halloween!), when we’ll be celebrating our annual Un-Gala Gala with food and fun. You’ll hear more about it as the date draws nearer

 

Posted in L&F News

Loaves and Fishes seeks volunteer to help with volunteer-tracking system

With only one paid part-time professional, Loaves and Fishes relies almost entirely on volunteers to cook, plate, and serve meals to our guests, who number more than 30,000 annually. Other volunteers are responsible for overseeing the program and for fund-raising from individuals and our foundation partners.

We are currently seeking to increase donations from our volunteers. To do so, we are seeking a volunteer willing to make a three-month commitment to identify a better donor-tracking system. Currently, most volunteers primarily schedule their time by email, which is kept on a Google Calendar.

Specific goals for the three-month commitment are as follows:

  • Review donor-tracking systems and present cost, setup, and operation requirements to the Loaves and Fishes board
  • With board approval, pilot and implement chosen donor management system
  • Provide instruction to Loaves and Fishes volunteers on its operations

Ideal candidates will have a solid understanding of databases and cloud solutions. A fund-raising background would be help.

If you are interested, please email Jason Lee Bakke at jason@loavesandfishesdc.org with your interest, skills, and a brief biographical cameo.

We look forward to working with you.

Posted in L&F News

Thank You, Volunteers

As we approach the celebration of Easter, we here at Loaves and Fishes are reflecting on the blessing of our generous and inspiring volunteer community.

We recently spoke with three volunteers: Stephanie and Nyla Taylor, a mother and daughter volunteer team new to Loaves and Fishes, and Joe Kolar, who has been volunteering with the program for eighteen years.

Nyla (right), a junior at Bishop McNamara High School, initially came to Loaves and Fishes to fulfill a school service requirement, but now plans to continue to volunteer long beyond when her requirement is satisfied. Her mother, Stephanie, was inspired by the commitment of fellow volunteers and the respect demonstrated by all who enter the dining room and kitchen. She was most impressed in the quality of the food and the care and love put into preparing of each meal. “They [the volunteers] cook for hundreds and it can be an exhausting experience, but you don’t grow tired because you know what the cause is for,” she said.

joeJoe Kolar, who heads the team of monthly volunteers from St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, has found a welcoming and inspiring community at Loaves and Fishes. He commented, “It’s hard to be cynical when you spend time with people who are committed to helping people.” He praised the community enviornment at Loaves and Fishes, explaining how, “It expands your horizons. It expands your heart.”

It is clear that those in the dining room of  St. Stephen’s each weekend are not only people hungry for food, but also those who are hungry to serve. If you have any interest in becoming involved at Loaves and Fishes, please contact us.

Our volunteers can only continue to serve the hungry if we receive donations from supporters like you. Please donate $1,000, $500, $90, $60, $30, or another amount to help us keep serving nutritious meals to our guests. Any amount is appreciated. You donation has immediate and direct impact on feeding the hungry. For example:

  • $1,000 would cover a one month’s supply of chicken;
  • $1,500 will pay for one year of plates and utensils;
  • $400 will pay for one year of napkins;
  • $250 will pay for three months of vegetables;
  • $50 will ensure that fifteen hungry people have something nutritious to eat this weekend.

Thank you for supporting Loaves and Fishes in our mission to serve the growing number of hungry and homeless among us.

Posted in L&F News

Loaves and Fishes Co-hosting Mayoral Unforum

Loaves and Fishes is co-hosting honest conversations with the DC mayoral candidates. These one-on-one conversations with the leading mayoral candidates will include the pressing issue facing the city – inequality in the District of Columbia.

Refreshments will be served!

Sunday, March 2, 7-9 PM
Muriel Bowser and Tommy Wells
Moderated by Mark Seagraves
Register HERE: www.law.udc.edu/event/UnForum1

Sunday, March 9, 7-9 PM
Jack Evans and Vincent Orange
Moderated by Marc Fisher
Register HERE: www.law.udc.edu/event/UnForum2

Sunday, March 16, 7-9 PM
Vincent Gray and Andy Shallal
Moderated by Marc Fisher
Register HERE: www.law.udc.edu/event/UnForum3

Loaves and Fishes Co-sponsors Mayoral Unforum

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